Justice Department to clarify bump stock regulations

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Bump stocks - devices created to allow an AR-style rifle to mimic the performance of a machine gun - became the subject of debate after a gunman used the device to kill 58 people and injured some 500 others by shooting out of a hotel window at a concert off the Las Vegas strip on October 1. Bump stocks achieved national infamy after gunman Stephen Paddock used them when he opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas in early October, killing 58 people and injuring almost 500.

I saw the head of the NRA on a Sunday morning news show and he stated that bump stocks were legalized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms during the Obama administration.

The Las Vegas gunman used bump stocks to accelerate the fire of his semiautomatic weapons.

The Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is reviewing whether bump stocks can be classified under the definition of a "machine gun".

The agencies said in a joint statement they're looking to clarify whether certain bump stock devices can be defined as "machine guns", which are tightly regulated under federal law.

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The move comes in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre, in which gunman Stephen Paddock affixed bump stocks to at least 12 of the 23 firearms he used to open fire on thousands of concertgoers.

Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary committee called a hearing to consider policy options. Though lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to the House of Representatives, Republicans shied away from a legislative fix and suggested a regulatory solution from the ATF would yield better results.

Automatic weapons are illegal in the United States. "Accordingly, we find that the "bump-stock" is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act".

Sessions said the department and ATF had to go through a formal rule-making process that allows comment from the public and the firearms industry. Officials said they cleared the device because it "performs no automatic mechanical function when installed" and the shooter must still apply "constant" forward and rearward pressure to the trigger.

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